Satellite images of the western region of China show 28 different detention centers currently housing Muslims. And not only do these places exist, they’re expanding at an alarming rate, according to Fox News.
Since 2016, the total area for the camps grew by 400 percent. Most of this expansion happened in 2018 alone.
“The Chinese government is carrying out a massive human rights violation in the Xinjiang zone,” says Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson.
The facilities themselves look and function like prisons. These camps are surrounded by high fences and watchtowers.
The Chinese government will not say how many people are being held in these camps, though they are holding hundreds of thousands of people here. As many as 1 million people may be detained in these facilities.
According Chinese officials, these camps are “vocational schools.”
In short, these detention centers are concentration camps.
The camps are in the Xinjiang province, where the Uyghur ethnic group is a large minority. The Uyghurs are largely Muslim.
Former detainees of the camps say they underwent “brainwashing” sessions, according to CNN, and were made to study propaganda about the Communist Party.
Beijing has rejected these reports, and officials say that they are fighting against terrorism and “religious extremism.”
As a previous U.N. hearing on human rights, the Chinese government denied the existence of the camps completely. The camps are patrolled by guards who have spiked clubs, stun guns, and tear gas. The buildings are ringed with razor wire and watched with infrared cameras, according to Vox.
American politicians have asked the Trump Administration to take some kind of action. The Congressional Executive Committee on China, a bipartisan Committee led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a report outlining the human rights abuses taking place in China.
“Of particular concern is the mass, arbitrary, internment of as many as 1 million or more Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in ‘political reeducation’ camps in western China. Reports indicate that this may be the largest incarceration of an ethnic minority population since World War II, and that it may constitute crimes against humanity,” the report reads.
Along with Rubio, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) proposed a bill titled the Xinjiang Uyghur Human Rights Act of 2018. Through this legislation, the U.S. State Department would work with the U.N. to develop some kind of response to these horrors. This includes sanctions against the Chinese government.
“These are detention camps, these are reeducation camps, where people are killed, where they are tortured and they are brutalized in so many, many ways,” Smith said.
An official from the state department told reporters in April that the Trump Administration is considering sanctions against China because of these camps.
That hasn’t happened, and so far Donald Trump has not publicly acknowledged the existence of these camps.